Open letter of GOLOS Association to chairman and members of the Coordination Council of Non-Governmental Organizations for Defense of Citizens’ Electoral Rights, on exiting from the Council.

23 октября 2008 г.

GOLOS Association made decision on exit from the Coordination Council of Non-Governmental Organizations for Defense of Citizens’ Electoral Rights (hereinafter, the Coordination Council).

Open letter of GOLOS Association to chairman and members of the Coordination Council of Non-Governmental Organizations for Defense of Citizens’ Electoral Rights, on exiting from the Council.
GOLOS Association made decision on exit from the Coordination Council of Non-Governmental Organizations for Defense of Citizens’ Electoral Rights (hereinafter, the Coordination Council).

The Coordination Council was established on December 19, 2006, in the period of preparation for the March (2007) elections. The Russian Foundation for Free Elections was the initiator and organizer of the Coordination Council establishment.

The idea of a non-profit organizations coalition for defense of the electoral rights and free expression of will looked promising at the time. The fact that Chairman of the RF Central Electoral Commission Mr. Churov attended the meetings, offered the Coordination Council additional opportunity to bring their point of view directly to organizers of elections.

GOLOS Association, the Independent Institute of Elections, the Interregional Association of Voters, and several other non-profit organizations, which had for many years consistently worked in the field of electoral campaigns monitoring and defense of the electoral rights, supported the initiative of the Executive Director of the Russian Foundation for Free Elections, Mr. Przhezdomskii.

In fact, at the first stage of the Coordination Council’s existence, a working group was set up, and a report on monitoring of the March (2007) election was published. However, a resolution with final assessment of that report was not adopted at the Coordination Council meeting, and the account at the Public Chamber was presented in absence of those members of the Coordination Council who were the main authors of the final report.

Later all meetings of the Coordination Council were turned into self-presentations of Mr. Churov, who was present at the Coordination Council only for the time when TV cameras were in place, and presentations of Mr. Przhezdomskii with regard to the «Hot line» project of the Russian Foundation for Free Elections. All appeals of GOLOS Association to begin practical work of elections monitoring, serious analysis of the existing violations, and communication of findings to the RF CEC as the main elections organizer, did not bring any results. More and more, the Coordination Council was becoming an organization of imitative nature, and this was more and more obvious.

Two blatant facts became the exhaustive grounds for exiting from the Coordination Council:

Fact No. 1

An expert of GOLOS Association was secretly and without explanation of reasons excluded from the group for monitoring of the electronic-polling experiment in Novomoskovsk

The Central Electoral Commission of Russia conducted an experimental electronic poll of voters in the town of Novomoskovsk on October 12. The Coordination Council for Defense of Citizens’ Electoral Rights, at its meeting on September 23, decided to dispatch members of the Coordination Council to Novomoskovsk for evaluation of the experiment. GOLOS Association, as a member of the Coordination Council, delegated an expert to the group. However, the Russian Foundation for Free Elections actually undertook «cleansing of the lists». As the result, representatives of only three organizations remained in the list: 1) apparatus of the Public Chamber of the city of Serpukhov; 2) the Public Council on e-Elections; 3) all-Russian non-governmental organization «Academy of Problems of Defense, Law and Order». GOLOS Association was not even notified about this decision. This was obviously not the result of technical complications but deliberate exclusion, because GOLOS was ready to dispatch the expert on its own account. See a detailed statement: http://www.golos.org/a1736.html

Fact No. 2

At the same meeting of the Coordination Council, Andrei Yurievich Buzin (chairman of the Interregional Association of voters, a member of the Coordination Council) volunteered to work at the Russian Foundation for Free Elections «Hot line» and help analyze the incoming information. The Coordination Council accepted this proposal. However, on October 12 Mr. Buzin spent only four hours at the «Hot line» room, until A.S. Przhezdomskii demanded him to leave the premises. Both those incidents very expressively disclose the role of the Coordination Council at the Russian elections as well as the attitude of his chairman to openness, transparency and public control over the elections! See a detailed statement: http://www.golos.org/a1776.html All stated above provided unquestionable motivation for GOLOS Association exit from the Coordination Council. We have supported and support establishment of NPO coalitions for monitoring of the electoral process and defense of citizens’ electoral rights. We are convinced that activism of the general public will make it possible to comply with the procedures which would make Russian elections really open, free, and fair. However, we are not ready to provide a smokescreen for undisguised imitation of the public control. We think that the Coordination Council member organizations, if efficient public control and defense of citizens’ electoral rights are their genuine priorities, should reconsider the principles of work of the Coordination Council. Lilia Shibanova, Executive Director, GOLOS Association